You’ve probably been seeing it everywhere – from your Pinterest and Instagram feed to Etsy shops and high street fashion stores. Soutache jewelry has slowly made its way as a fashion staple over last few years and is now here to stay as one of the most prominent jewelry trends of 2019. If you are also enchanted with the look and feel of soutache as we are, you’re in the right place. Read our interview with a talented soutache designer, Luciana Santarelli, find out more about this interesting technique and her beautiful soutache designs.
M: Hello Luciana, thank you for being our guest today and taking the time to introduce soutache to our readers. Could you please tell us something about yourself for the start?
How and when did you start with jewelry making?
Luciana: Hi, thank you for having me 🙂. My name is Luciana and I live in Rome. I’m 57, married with two kids. Jewelry making is my side job, so to speak. I’m doing it in my free time, but also in every other moment I can “steal” from other activities.
Although I have always considered myself “creative”, about six years ago I got closer to the creative world – mainly beading – and I found out about soutache. Being a self-taught designer, already knowing how to sew, embroider and doing manual and creative works, I decided to give it a try. I looked for the materials on the Internet, watched some tutorials, and that’s how I started getting the ideas for my pieces. Obviously, I was deeply fascinated by the look of soutache, so I started my creative journey.
M: OK, we can already tell what would be your favorite technique 🙂, but could you maybe tell us a little bit more about soutache as such? For those who are not so familiar with it…?
Luciana: Of course!🙂 Soutache (pronounced SOO-tash), also known as Russia braid, is a quite simple technique when broken down to its basics. It’s the combination of beads, crystals (mainly Swarovski) and passementerie elements (i.e. decorative trimmings such as tassels, braid, and fringing). The basic idea behind it is to create unique weaves, curls and shapes, also by using cabochon stones or buttons to create necklaces, earrings, pendants and decorations for purses, shoes and belts.
M: What are your favorite materials to use in jewelry making? What are your favorite Swarovski crystals cuts and colors to make jewelry with?
Luciana: My favorite materials – besides the passementerie threads – are definitely Swarovski crystals. In my humble opinion, those are the best stones I’ve ever used. Their uniqueness, brightness and versatility simply improve any design! My favorites are Swarovski round stones and fancy stones. To name some of them: pear- and tear-shaped (4320 and 4322), the 1122 Rivoli stone and the 4470 Cushion Square Fancy Stone. And of course, Swarovski Crystal Pearls, which are basically unparalleled.
M: Where do you find inspiration for your jewelry pieces?
Luciana: I draw my inspiration mainly from the contrasting colors of threads, beads or crystals. Colors are those that do the job here. If I see a beautiful or interesting color combination, I get inspired immediately.
M: Can you describe us your creative process a little bit?
Luciana: If I don’t have a design request, I usually get an idea of what I’m going to make when I have time to sit down and play with materials, colors and shapes. Sometimes I change my mind when I’m already halfway through, so I end up slightly changing the design or completely readjusting it. Sometimes it’s simple and repetitive work, other times it’s more complicated and engaging, requiring a lot of problem solving. Either way – I love that process!
M: How long does it take for you to design and make a piece of jewelry?
Luciana: The time required for designing a piece varies, depending on how complicated it is, but it usually takes less than the actual production. The soutache technique requires very precise and time-consuming needlework, a bit like haute couture’s dressmaking. To create a necklace, for example, it would take me two days. If I’m doing something small and simple, it might even take me just an afternoon. As always, it depends.
M: What market segments are you designing for?
Luciana: My jewelry creations are for everyone and every occasion. Weddings or everyday wear, women of all ages love to wear my jewelry. And that is something I’m especially proud of.
M: If you had to name one thing that makes your designs so unique and special, what would it be?
Luciana: According to the comments on my social media, my handiwork is “special” because of its precision, but maybe even more because of my color combinations. I’ve even had some people reacting emotionally to it! But if there’s one thing that I get to claim as my idea, it’s the jeweled summer sandals I launched on my social media pages.
M: Where can people see or purchase your designs?
Luciana: You can find my creations on my Facebook page Luciana Soutache, on Instagram (@lucianasoutache) and on Pinterest. I am most active on Facebook. Here I answer all questions about my works and how to buy them. I have also a few of them displayed in a shop, Guastalla il Calzolaio (Sarezzo, Brescia) in collaboration with Vanna Guastalla.
M: Thank you Luciana for doing this interview with us and we wish you even more succes in 2019!
Luciana: Thank you for inviting me and for this amazing opportunity to present myself and my designs to your readers 🙂